By Mwamba Peni II
Sat 30 Jan. 2010, 04:00 CAT
Prior to the coming of western education, Africans had their own education system. Our education was not conducted in a classroom as is the case now. We had no curriculum or timetable to follow. Besides, one was not offered a degree or a certificate at the end because education lasted a lifetime.
Our ancestors learnt by observing what elders did in the community. What was important was to learn the skill and master it perfectly so that when called upon, one would perform it without difficulty.
The education of young people was conducted in such a way that whatever they learnt was absorbed and internalised so that it became part of their identity and mental wallpaper.
Consequently, intelligence was not determined through written examinations but by looking at how one applied him/herself in society.
Wise people were those who could solve other people’s problems, reflect on issues and coin proverbs besides finding means and ways of surviving when in the face of anything that threatened human life.
One did not claim to be wise until they applied their theories in various ways to the amusement of everyone. Those who relied on the skills of others were not admired at all as they contributed nothing to society. Thereafter, education in traditional African societies led learners to independent thinking and discovery instead of parroting the thinking of others.
I’am not against western education but rather what is common to most of the people who have gone through it. Western education has somehow turned Africans into ‘manual type of scholars’ in the sense that we cannot do anything beyond what is written in textbooks.
Education is not all about mastering the thoughts of others but applying one’s acquired knowledge for the advancement and betterment of one’s society and of the world as a whole.
My sincere hope is that those of us who have had the chance of going through western education will move beyond the status quo and parrot intellectualism which has manifested itself in many forms if we are to adequately address the problems we face as a continent in this time and age.
The quack intellectuals we see around who do nothing but paraphrase the thinking of others are nothing but a dead leaf that has broken loose from a tree. They are as good as chicken drops on a rainy day.